BAKED ZITI WITH ITALIAN SAUSAGE and five different kinds of cheese is classic comfort food. The ziti, sausage slices, and cheese are piled so that each bite contains a bit of everything.
— 1 pound (ca. 454 g) Italian sausage links
— 2 (14-ounce) cans stewed tomatoes
— 2 tablespoons olive oil
— 4 garlic cloves, minced
— 1 medium yellow or sweet onion, diced
— 3/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
— 2 teaspoons Italian seasoning
— 1 (28-ounce) can of crushed tomatoes
— Salt and pepper
— 1 pound (ca. 454 g) ZITI
— 8 ounces (ca. 302 g) mascarpone cheese
— 8 ounces (ca. 302 g) sliced Provolone, cut into strips
— 1 cup cottage cheese or ricotta cheese
— 1/2 cup shredded Parmesan cheese
— 2 cups shredded mozzarella
Cook Italian sausage in a lightly greased pan until browned on all sides. Remove to a cutting board and let cool. (Sausage does not need to be cooked through at this point. It will finish cooking in the sauce.).
When sausage has cooled some, cut it into slices.
Add 2 tablespoons olive oil to a Dutch oven. Add onion and cook 5 to 7 minutes to soften. Then add garlic and cook 1 more minute.
Add Italian seasoning, crushed red pepper flakes, crushed tomatoes, and stewed tomatoes. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
Bring to a simmer and add Italian sausage slices. Simmer for 15 minutes, stirring occasionally.
Cook ziti in salted water according to package directions. Drain.
Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Ladle about 1/4 of the sauce into the bottom of a greased 9×13-inch pan.
Evenly arrange 1/2 the ziti in the pan. Dollop half the mascarpone cheese and cottage cheese over the ziti. Add half the provolone cheese strips and half the mozzarella.
Top the cheese with half the remaining sauce, followed by the remaining ziti.
Dollop on the remaining mascarpone cheese and cottage cheese. Layer with the remaining sauce. Sprinkle with the rest of the mozzarella cheese, the provolone, and the Parmesan. Cover with a piece of aluminum foil that has been sprayed with cooking spray so that the cheese doesn’t stick.
Bake for 25 minutes. Remove foil and broil for a few minutes to brown the cheese.
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